|Viola Cordova was the first Native American woman
to receive a PhD in philosophy. Even as she became an expert on
canonical works of traditional Western philosophy, she devoted herself
to defining a Native American philosophy. Although she died prematurely
of a brain aneurysm before she could complete her life’s
work, some of her colleagues have organized her pioneering
contributions into this provocative book.
In three parts, Cordova sets out a complete Native American philosophy.
First she explains her own understanding of the nature of reality
itself—the origins of the world, the relation of matter and
spirit, the nature of time, and the roles of culture and language in
understanding all of these. She then turns to our role as residents of
the Earth, arguing that we become human as we deepen our relation to
our people and to our places, and as we understand the responsibilities
that grow from those relationships.
In the final section, she calls for a new reverence in a world where
there is no distinction between the sacred and the mundane.Cordova
clearly contrasts Native American beliefs with the traditions of the
Enlightenment and Christianized Europeans (what she calls
“Euroman” philosophy). By doing so, she leads her
readers into a deeper understanding of both traditions and encourages
us to question any view that claims a singular truth.
From these essays—which are lucid, insightful, frequently
funny, and occasionally angry—we receive a powerful new
vision of how we can live with respect, reciprocity, and joy.
How It Is
The Native American Philosophy of V. F. Cordova
edited by Kathleen Dean Moore, Kurt Peters, Ted Jojola, Amber Lacy
University of Arizona Press,